Intercropping increases parasitism of pests
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As part of a programme for controlling lepidopteran stem-borers in cereal crops in Africa, we have investigated the effectiveness of combined cropping regimes of cultivatedand wild plants for reducing stem-borer damage. Intercropping with the non-host molasses grass, Melinis minutiflora, significantly decreased levels of infestation by stem-borers in the main crop and also increased larval parasitism of stem-borers by Cotesia sesamiae. Volatile agents produced by M. minutiflora repelled female stem-borers and attracted foraging female C. sesamiae. One of the volatile components released by intact M. minutiflora which attract parasitoids is also produced by herbivore-damaged plants and is implicated more widely as a cue for stimulating predation and parasitism.